What is God Like?
I grew up attending a Christian school where we learned the attributes of God – what God was like. However, 75% of the young Christian men I mentor haven’t really thought much about how immense and amazing God really is and how very different from humans he is. But in other ways, because we were created in the image of God, we have much in common with God. (I’ll cover that subject in next week’s blog, What Does it Mean to be Created in the Image of God?)
So, I put together the following information about the attributes of God, to teach the men I mentor. Perhaps you too have a person you’re spiritually mentoring, or an older grandchild who ought to better understand, what God is like. Attributes unique to God 1. God is omniscient. Omniscience simply means that God knows everything. This includes the knowledge of all things that have actually happened, but also of things which will happen in the future (Acts 15:18; Prov. 24:12; Ps. 139:1-6).
The practical ramifications of the omniscience of God are many. Think, for instance, what this means in relation to the eternal security of the believer. If God knows all, then obviously nothing can come to light after our salvation, which he did not know when he saved us. Also, when something tragic occurs in our lives, God knows and has known all about it from the beginning and is working all things out for his glory and our ultimate good. God is never taken by surprise.
2. God is omnipotent. Fifty-six times the Bible declares that God is the Almighty One, which basically means nothing is beyond his power to accomplish. God’s omnipotence is seen in his power to create, in his preservation of all things, and in his providential care for us (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 1:3).
3. God is infinite and eternal. God has always been and will ever be. God is not bound by the limitations of time. His eternality extends backward forever from our viewpoint of time as well as forward forever. Nevertheless, this concept does not mean that time is unreal to God. Although he sees the past and future as clearly as the present, he sees them as including the succession of all events, without being himself bound by that succession (Ps. 90:2; see also Gen. 21:33; Acts 17:24).
4. God is immutable. Immutability means that the character and nature of God is unchanging and unchangeable. Not one of the attributes of God will ever diminish or change. He has always been loving, and will always remain loving. Whether or not God changes his mind, or will in a particular matter in response to prayer or events is a separate issue, but God’s basic nature does not change. (James 1:17; Is. 46:10).
5. God is omnipresent. Omnipresence means simply that God is everywhere present. What is the difference between omnipresence and pantheism? (Pantheism is foundational in Hinduism and many New Age ideas.) Essentially, the difference is this: Omnipresence says God’s presence is everywhere (though he’s separate from the world and the things in it). Pantheism says that God actually dwells in everything (He lives in trees, rocks, the sea, etc.). This doctrine means that no one can escape God. Even if people try throughout their entire lifetime, they still cannot escape him even at death. On the other hand, it also means that a believer may experience the presence of God at all times and know the blessing of walking with him in every trial and circumstance of life (Ps. 139:7-10).
6. God is true. The Bible asserts that God is true and Jesus claimed to be the Truth, thus making himself equal with God. The ramifications of the truthfulness of God lie chiefly in the area of his promises. He cannot be false to any one of the promises he has made. However, some of the promises God makes in the Bible were made exclusively to an individual, or to the people of Israel, therefore not all promises may be claimed by Christians.
The second area of God’s truth are his declarations. God’s moral laws are true, including both his warnings about disobeying them and his blessings for those who live by them (Deut. 28: 1,2 & 15). What God says is true, and we can absolutely rely on them (Rom. 3:4; Jn. 14:6).
7. God is sovereign. The word sovereign means chief, highest, or supreme. When we say that God is sovereign we are saying that he is the number one ruler in the universe. This does not mean, however, that he rules his universe as a dictator, for God is not only sovereign; he is also loving, merciful, and holy. He can do nothing apart from the exercise of all his attributes acting harmoniously together.
The concept of sovereignty involves the entire plan of God in all of its intricate details of design and outworking. Although he often allows things to take their natural course according to natural and moral laws which he designed and he allows Satan to exercise some authority in this world, he is the sovereign God who is working all things according to his wise plan (Eph. 1; Rom. 9).
8. God is holy. In God, holiness is certainly the absence of evil, but it must also include a positive righteousness. Holiness is one of the most important, if not the most important, attributes of God.
An analogy may help in understanding this concept of holiness. What does it mean to be healthy? It means more than not being sick. Likewise, holiness is more than absence of sin; it is a positive, healthy state of being right (Is. 57:15; Ps. 113:4-6).
9. God is just (or righteous). While holiness principally concerns the character of God, justice or righteousness has more to do with the character expressed in his dealings with men. It means that God is equitable, or as the Bible puts it, he is no respecter of persons (Ps. 19:9; see also Ps. 116:5; 145:17; Jer. 12:1).
The most obvious application of the justice of God is in connection with judgment. When humans stand before God to be judged, they will receive justice. But for believers in Christ, we will also receive mercy. This is both a comfort (for those who have been wronged in life) and a warning (for those who think they have been getting away with evil).
10. God is love. God’s love is an affection that moves him to provide for the well-being of his creatures and creation, whether they deserve it or not. But let’s personalize it. When young people think of love they think first and quite naturally of a pleasant emotional experience. And this is love, but it’s not the whole concept of it. When those same young people grow up, marry, and have children, they soon learn that they have to discipline those children. The couple that first cuddles a baby, soon must correct a child who reaches out to touch a hot stove. So any definition of love must be broad enough to include both the cuddling and correcting aspects of love. God gave his Son to die on the cross out of love and he disciplines his children out of love. God is the very definition of love (1 Jn. 3:16; Jn. 3:16; see also 1 Cor. 13).
Take a few minutes to think about and discuss with someone you’re mentoring, the many ways these attributes shape and influence your life.
Edited from ideas I found in, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, by Charles C. Ryric.
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